Graphic: Baby Zac onboard an RFDS aircraft

Help babies like Zac this Christmas

Date published

14 Nov 2020

It should have been the happiest day, but soon Mum Jemma and newborn baby Zac where both needing urgent emergency care.... 515 km away

When your baby is born, there's one thing more than anything you want to do. You want to hold this precious tiny person safely in your arms. The moment their skin touches yours, there is a rush of emotion as you start to bond - relief, disbelief, joy, wonder and love. You want to protect them from anything and everything. 

But when Jemma held baby Zac for the first time, she felt fear. 

"The midwife put him on my chest and something immediately felt wrong. He was making a strange sound... a gurgle. He wasn't kicking his legs or wriggling is arms," remembers Jemma.

“He was limp and grey,” Jemma remembers. “I was begging him to make some noise. I kept saying, ‘Cry for Mummy, cry for Mummy’."

Graphic: Jemma with baby Zac

The medical team soon discovered, Zac had fluid on his lungs. He couldn't clear it because he wasn't producing surfactants - a lubricant that keeps the airways open. But soon there was another emergency, Jemma had started to haemorrhage. 

"Suddenly, there were 18 people working in the room," remembers Jemma.

Jemma wasn't thinking about herself or her own health, but losing blood after birth can be extremely serious and she too needed specialist care in Brisbane.

I never imagined for a minute that we would both end up in Flying Doctor aircraft later that night.

Graphic: Zac on an RFDS aircraft

In the early hours of the morning, Zac was in a humidicrib and ready to travel. Dad, Shane, stayed with him while they waited for the RFDS aircraft to arrive with a NeoRESQ team. With a full team of life-saving equipment on board, there was only room for one tiny sick patient. 

So Jemma waited for another RFDS aircraft to arrive, feeling relieved she wouldn't be separated from Zac for long. She couldn't have been in better hands with RFDS Flight Nurse, Jo on board, who has been with the RFDS for more than 17 years. 

"I couldn't lift my legs up because my pelvis was in such a mess after giving birth. The nurse who helped me on that flight was absolutely gorgeous. She took such great care of me."  

Zac in hospital

The next time Jemma and Shane saw Zac, it was a shock. 

He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, surrounded by machines and tubes. They couldn't pick him up or cuddle him.

Click the video to listed to Jemma describe those scary first few days and how the Flying Doctor team helped save Zac's life. 
This Christmas you can make sure the Flying Doctor is there for more families like Shane, Jemma, Maxi and Zac.

Jemma says goodbye

It wasn't long before Jemma and Zac were well enough to return home and the Flying Doctor was there for them.

Jemma says goodbye

This beautiful photo was taken at RFDS Brisbane Base as Jemma said good-bye to the hospital staff who had taken such good care of them.

Baby zac in a capsule

Baby Zac is carefully carried on board the Flying Doctor aircraft ready for his flight home.

Zac and Maxi

Baby Zac and big sister Maxi reunited at home in Gladstone.